Getting a vehicle ready for winter involves everything from investing in snow chains or special tires to brushing up on knowledge of cold-weather driving. An important part of preparing for these frigid months is winterizing the vehicle. This goes beyond strapping on new tires or throwing an ice scraper in the back - drivers must be able to complete a variety of tasks that ensure any type of automobile is ready to handle the cold weather.
Here are a few steps that you should strike off your to-do list as you winterize a vehicle:
Inspect the battery
A vehicle's battery should be inspected at all times of the year, but it becomes particularly important during the winter. Battery capacity is reduced by colder temperatures, and this freezing environment may also be more harmful to the cables and gear associated with the device. To avoid being stranded in the cold - undoubtedly the worst-case scenario for many drivers - take the time to read the level of the battery and decide if it's time to invest in another one. It is also helpful to check and refill the fluid within the device.
Treat the windshield
Visibility is key throughout the winter, so you should take steps to make sure your windshield is ready to handle the snow and ice. Dealing with mud, snow and other obstacles means you get plenty of work from windshield wipers, but it could be a good idea to replace these tools with new ones before winter arrives. Drivers should also choose an antifreeze that will keep their windshield clear. Certain washer fluids come with antifreeze mixed in, and that option could be a wise choice for drivers.
Prepare the doors
A common problem drivers encounter in the winter occurs when doors and windows freeze, causing door locks to resist keys and many of the openings to clamp shut. Many auto owners head inside to grab some warm water to loosen the ice, but this isn't feasible - or advised - for all drivers. Instead of taking any risks, consider investing in glycerine. This liquid is ideal for de-icing a section of your car. The only thing you need to be aware of is storage: Leaving a stash of glycerine in a glove compartment is useless, so an outside storage container may be a better option.
Switch the engine oil
Depending on the type of vehicle you drive, you may also want to switch your engine oil. Many automakers recommend drivers change their engine oil to one with a lower viscosity, meaning that it is thinner. Cold weather usually thickens the oil naturally, so having a thinner product ensures that there will be no clogging within the engine, and it will continue operating a high level. An owner's manual will likely have more information about making a switch and the type of oil that is preferred for a given vehicle.
Check the HVAC system
Inspecting the heating and ventilation of a car may seem secondary - after all, the system is more about personal comfort than anything else. However, having a functioning HVAC system is essential for the winter. For one, you need to be comfortable to focus on your off-road driving without any distractions. Secondly, the HVAC is also responsible for defrosting windows and the windshield, and that task must be done effectively for safe winter driving. If you notice something is wrong with the HVAC system, it could also be a sign of related problems under the hood, so it should be checked out before you head to the trails.